Below is a what’s called a tree map showing the budget appropriations by agency under the agreement released yesterday. It was done using the free data visualization tool created by IBM called Many Eyes.
Basically, the tree map compares the whole amounts appropriated by agency from what it received in FY 2009 and what is proposed under the agreement for FY 2012. The intensity of orange shading shows an increase, while the intensity of blue shading shows a decrease. The size of each rectangle is proportional to its share of the overall budget appropriation.
You can click on each rectangle to get a summary of each year’s amount and percent change. As you can see, pretty much every agency has suffered cuts over the last few years, with the exception of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Commissioners of the Land Office and the state Election Board.
I had a great time on Saturday down at the Skirvin Hotel for the first CityCampOKC, part of the second day of the Gov 2.0a conference. CityCamps have been in several other cities for the last couple of years, but this was a first for Oklahoma.
This was my first “unconference,” a loosely themed and loosely organized day of like-minded people coming together. Basically, the agenda is set by the participants, with help from the unconference facilitators.
After introductions, we wrote some discussion topics on yellow stickies that our facilitator, Oklahoma City’s Zach Nash, put on the wall. Since we all were interested in the intersection of government and technology, some of the topics weren’t a surprise.
The first session split into two groups, one for open data in local government and the other for website design.
I was more interested in the open data side, since much of my job involves requesting and analyzing publicly available government data. We grabbed our list of topics from the wall and got to the discussion.
We had a good mix of city officials, developers, entrepreneurs and activists at the open data table.
I was a little leery that we would be able to cover the eight or so topics on our list. But after reading each sticky note, the conversation just started flowing.
Of course, open data is not just data provided by government agencies. Increasingly, engaged citizens are creating their own data sets that can be used by developers and hackers for “mashing up” on maps, smartphone apps and data visualization.
A number of state and city government have launched open data websites in the last few years, including Oklahoma earlier this year. But the challenge is showing what can be done with that data.
Gov2.0Radio’s Adriel Hampton talked about the datasf.org website and how the city of San Francisco has compiled some of the apps using open data into a showcase page. Other cities or states are sponsoring competitions with small cash prizes for the best app using open data.
The challenges posed by both government-provided data and citizen-generated data are similar. The data needs to be accurate and timely. If it’s provided by citizens, there needs to be a process for collection and peer verification. If it’s provided by government, there needs to be a easy way for users to report errors in the data.
Still, at the end of the day, the data needs to be useful to the public. Among some of the other ideas discussed:
- Breaking down the bureaucracy inside city government so departments can freely share data without turf wars.
- Harnessing existing platforms like See Click Fix or Open 311 to get the public to report problems with city services.
- Providing APIs (Application Program Interfaces) so city governments can provide feeds of city data to the public without much extra manpower or effort.
- Explaining the value of open data to city decision makers. Some suggestions included informal “citizen advisory panels” for leaders to ask for additional explanation from local data users and developers.
On the other side of the room, participants discussed how to best redesign or begin websites for city government. Among the models mentioned was the recent collaborative redesign of the federal government’s Federal Communications Commission website. Other topics included:
- Getting elected officials involved in the redesign process.
- The website as the new face of city government and how it’s just as important as the customer interactions with trash pickup or pothole repairs.
- Is the city website ever really “done” and the importance of continual improvement.
- Creating a sustainable fee structure for online services that can help support website development.
- Keeping track of city website redesigns at GovLoop.
- Using open source tools like Drupal to power new local government website services. (Also see FirmStep.)
- Translating technical language into what people’s needs are in their communities. Ideally, all this technology should just make it easier, not harder, for citizens to engage with their local governments.
After lunch, Adriel Hampton gave a short presentation about his new company, Nation Builder, and how to take advantage of online tools to organize community members. (More on that later.)
The last session of the day was a discussion on how local governments can reach out to underserved communities. Among the key points:
- Don’t forget about local libraries being key points for outreach.
- Community building using Neighborgoods.org, an online swap-shop for neighbors and friends.
- Don’t force people to use a smartphone for city services. Not everybody can afford one. People will use the easiest thing available to them.
- If you have a Twitter account, don’t forget to embed its feed on your website.
- Using SMS text alerts or QR codes for additional information about city services.
- Reaching out to non-English speakers in the community.
- Providing closed-captioning for online video.
- Using savings from paperless/online billing for targeted outreach in other areas of city government.
I’ll have more on this in Sunday’s edition of The Oklahoman, but here’s a sneak peak at the more than $1.2 billion in what’s called revolving funds for Oklahoma state agencies. This is the money from fees or other sources that isn’t strictly part of the annual budget appropriations from the state’s general fund. Estimates for this year’s general revenue shortfall are about $500 million.
There are more than 500 of these revolving funds in state agency accounts. I’ve added some notes to the following tables for a closer look at just a few of the larger balances.
For a larger version of this, go here.
In case you missed it, you should check out our stories and interactive map that launched over the weekend.
The Oklahoman staff writer Bob Doucette and NewsOK’s Nick Tankersley, along with several other reporters and editors, put together some statistics on Oklahoma City homicides from the last four years.
- Oklahoma City Homicide Map
- Minorities, men make up most Oklahoma City homicides
- Mother seeks justice for slain son
As well as a look back at recent homicides, the map and data will be updated by our Breaking News reporters in 2011 and beyond.
For those interested in the technical side of things, Nick built the homicide map using Django, an open-source application that was developed to help newsrooms put interactive web pages, databases and maps together quickly. This isn’t the first time we’ve used Django for a newsroom application. Our “story walls” from the State Fair and OU and OSU games also were built using Django. Digital Managing Editor Alan Herzberger has more on the Story Walls here.
We’ve also used Django internally to enter election results and to keep track of candidate biographies for the 2010 elections. Nick created a public search for those candidates on our Politics page in the fall.